Being exposed to a chemical found in both industrial and consumer products may increase the risk of developing Parkinsons disease, a new study shows.
U.S. researchers have linked a likelihood of developing Parkinsonís to trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical used to degrease metal that is found in wood finishes, adhesives, paint and stain removers.
The study published May 15 in the medical journal JAMA Neurology shows those exposed to TCE through water had a 70 per cent higher risk of developing Parkinsons disease.
The neurological condition is characterized as a movement disorder, which can be seen in the slowness of walking, talking, rigidity and postural instability. There is no cure for Parkinsons but treatment and therapies can relieve some symptoms.
The study used a cohort of 340,489 military personnel in the U.S. who were stationed between 1975 and 1985 for at least three months. Just under half (158,122) had health data available.
From there researchers determined where people were stationed and if they developed Parkinsonís through a follow-up done between January 1997 and February 2021.
According to the study, a total of 430 veterans had Parkinsonís, of which 279 were stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and 151 from Camp Pendleton in California.
In multivariable models, Camp Lejeune veterans had a 70 per cent higher risk of PD, the study reads. Camp Lejeune veterans also had a significantly increased risk of prodromal PD diagnoses, including tremor, anxiety, and erectile dysfunction, and higher cumulative prodromal risk scores.
WE DONT NEED TO BE ALARMED
Dr. Robert Chen, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, told CTVs Your Morning on Tuesday that military personnel like those in the study are exposed to TCE more than an average person.
I think most people are exposed to (at a) much lower level, he said. But I think we need to better understand what (the) risks are, and maybe to the other chemicals as well. So I think more research needs to be done.
Chen says toxins in the environment arenít the only factor in a person developing Parkinsonís. Genetics also play a role.
There are a number of factors that impact the multifactorial issue of what causes the genetic factors, he said. I think these studies show that these environmental factors when toxins could be one of these factors, I think that could increase the risk of Parkinsons in the number of people.
He also said the chemical is not widely used in public life and is mostly used in industrial sectors.
I dont think there needs to be a general alarm, he said. Even this study, the percentage is actually less than 1 per cent of people who are exposed got diagnosed with Parkinsons diseaseÖSo I think it is something that we need to be aware of.
Research into why some people develop Parkinsons and a cure for the disease is ongoing but studying the effects of certain chemicals on patients, Chen says, helps piece together the public risks.
I think this type of research will tell us more about the different factors including different environmental factors, he said. I think it opens up the field to research more environmental factors, which is combined with other factors such as genetic factors, or even like head trauma, for example, that it can increase the risk of Parkinsons disease.